Shortbread Lofts ahead of schedule
The developer behind the Shortbread Lofts apartments and retail project on West Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill said Wednesday that construction is ahead of schedule.
Larry Short said workers are finishing the site grading and are getting ready to begin work on the foundation. The plan is to move renters in people into the apartment complex in June of next year, he said.
Construction on the project began earlier this year following an approval by the Chapel Hill Town Council in February of 2012 of a re-zoning and a special-use permit. The seven-story, mixed-use project is slated to include space for shops, 85 rental apartments, and parking.
Short said he partnered with the owners of Breadmen’s restaurant at 324 W. Rosemary St. to consolidate two neighboring pieces of properties they owned into one parcel at 333 W. Rosemary St.
Shortbread Lofts is planned to be an upscale project that caters to students. He said he believes it will help meet a need for student housing downtown, and will also help with a trend of single-family homes in the neighboring Northside community converting to student rentals.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also advocated for creating housing alternatives for students to the neighboring community.
“One of the challenges is that Northside, right next to Shortbread, those homes are being rented basically by the bedroom at exorbitant rates that make them completely unavailable to single-family home dwellers,” Kleinschmidt said. “And it’s basically taken us out of the stock for working class people. We need to create an alternative for students, particularly who are out there paying $700, $800 a bedroom.”
Kleinschmidt advocated for Shortbread Lofts, alongside the 140 West development of condos and retail space and the Greenbridge mixed-use project, as infill developments.
“I think that it reflects a national trend toward living in towns and taking advantage of cites being able to live and work and play in the same space, being able to take advantage of transit, and really a rejection of suburban sprawl model,” he said. “And I think that … (suburban sprawl) is much more damaging to the character…than infill development that takes advantage of existing infrastructure.”
He said he hears comments about the changing of the character of the town.
“It assumes that Chapel Hill has been static and hasn’t ever changed…it never stops changing,” he said. “We have goals around economic diversity in downtown and a 12-month kind of active economic cycle,” he also said. “And in order to be able to really accomplish that, we need folks living in downtown, and we need more people, we need a critical mass of people living in downtown.”
Roy Piscitello, one of the owners of Breadmen’s since 1974 along with his brother Bill Piscitello, said there’s a need for more people living downtown.
“Because a lot of the downtowns are withering away and dying,” he said. “I think that Chapel Hill needs the new urbanism, it needs density to where people will be downtown 24-7,” he also said. “And if they’re downtown, then there will be goods and services that will (follow).”